In the recent judgment of Arnold v Britton the Supreme Court of England & Wales provided important clarification of the correct approach to adopt when construing commercial contracts. Of particular interest to legal practitioners and contract negotiators alike, will be the Court’s guidance that only where the meaning of the relevant language is ambiguous or unclear should the court look to the ‘commercial common sense’ and ‘surrounding circumstances’. It is too early to say whether this decision marks a retreat from the increasingly robust approach to the admissibility of extrinsic evidence that the English courts have adopted over the last decade. Any retreat would be in stark contrast to the increasingly contextual approach adopted by other common law jurisdictions, such as Singapore where the courts’ approach brings it closer to the civil law approach to contract construction.

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Reed Smith LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore under the name and style, Reed Smith Pte Ltd (hereafter collectively, “Reed Smith”). Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with Reed Smith’s Formal Law Alliance partner in Singapore, Resource Law LLC, where necessary.